147 people have told Healthwatch Dorset about their experiences of being treated at Poole Hospital A&E, to inform a new report (out today) that will help the hospital improve A&E care for local people.

Poole Hospital invited former A&E patients to take part in the project, and those who responded were interviewed over the phone by Healthwatch Dorset volunteers between January and June 2021.

They were asked to rate their visit to A&E and to comment on what could be done differently to improve their experience.  They were also asked how they had ended up at A&E, for example via NHS 111, GP or ambulance; whether they were kept well informed about what was happening during their visit to A&E; about waiting times, the environment and any follow-up care and support which they received.

Patient feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with most people commenting that:

  • A&E staff treated them with care and kindness,
  • waiting times were acceptable,
  • the environment was clean, and
  • information and aftercare met their needs.

However, there were some key themes in the negative feedback gathered, including:

  • long waiting times for a small number of patients,
  • some unhelpful staff, particularly at reception, and
  • information, navigation, and signposting.

Healthwatch Dorset has shared its findings with Poole Hospital, along with the following recommendations for change and improvement.

  • Signage and parking information should be improved.
  • The hospital should look at ways to improve staff morale, particularly for A&E reception staff, to make sure that patients are treated kindly and with respect, even when hospital staff are working in stressful circumstances.
  • The A&E department should review the ways in which people are kept informed while they are waiting, including the use of volunteers to support patients who are anxious or distressed.
  • A leaflet and online information would be helpful to provide patients and their carers with a contact for follow up questions after they leave A&E, and information about the role of the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS).

Findings about referral to A&E, bookings appointments and the NHS 111 service, will be shared with Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group and the NHS 111 team to help guide service improvements and inform work to raise public awareness.

Poole Hospital Emergency Department has welcomed Healthwatch Dorset’s findings and recommendations and they are already working to address the issues raised in the report: “Thank you for sharing the details of your survey.  We are delighted with the plethora of positive feedback, especially during such a challenging time within the NHS due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and due to the building/improvement work that was ongoing at the Emergency Department and Urgent Treatment Centre at Poole Hospital at the time of your survey.”

Read the full report to find out more about people’s experiences of Poole Hospital A&E, and to learn how the hospital is responding to improve patient experience: Poole Hospital A&E: Local people’s experiences.

Healthwatch Dorset is now gathering feedback from patients who have visited Dorset County Hospital A&E department.

Share your views and experiences online with us of Dorset’s health and care services or contact us.